Type is an amazing creative tool. It can communicate many various things, meanings and it can take your photography to the next level. Type is often overlooked by many photographers today. I would like to give a brief description on what is typography and then outline on it’s history.
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type, type design, and modifying type glyphs (symbolic figures). In traditional typography, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that does not distract from the content. The goal of good typography is to balance the relationship of letterforms on a page, in order to aid the reader in understanding the message being conveyed. Thus, typography brings harmony between the functional and aesthetic aspects of the written alphabet.
Type has been apart of every culture and creed throughout history. We have seen type on the walls, on trees, on concrete and stone. Here is a brief history on typography:
- 300 BC Wood tablet “book” came into use in Greece and Rome, very similar to today’s books
- 105 AD Chinese invent paper
- 800 AD Spaces between words and capital letters become standard in Europe
- 868 AD Chinese print the first entire book, The Diamond Sutra
- 1200s Koreans begin using movable type
- 1456 Gutenberg publishes the Bible
- 1700s Standard type fonts are developed
- 1800s The Industrial Revolution brought steam power to printing presses
- 1889 Ottmar Mergenthaler develops Linotype machine which mechanically sets type line by line, rather than people setting type letter by letter
- 1950s Offset printing comes into wide use, where the metal type is pressed into a rubber mat which is then pressed onto the paper
- 1957 Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann design Helvetica
- 1993 Digital printing is used for small projects
Ever since the digital world of photography erupted in the 1990’s, we have seen typography take a whole new look. Photography changed from its traditional look to a more creative form of art. Typography together with photography helped coined the term graphic design.
How has typography changed your creativity as an artist? How has it enhanced your profession has a photographer and graphic designer? Will you consider incorporating typography on your next art project and if so, how?